The walk down the steep, dark steps that lead into Brisbane’s oldest gentleman’s club instantly sets the mood for Anywhere Theatre Festival show The Touch Industry. Below ground, blue lit rooms echo with the laughter of an excited audience and the clinks and rattles of beverages being made at the bar. Lithe performers twirl on poles or pace the room with sultry glowers, and there is an undeniable build of anticipation.
Anywhere Theatre Festival strives to showcase performance in any space but a traditional theatre space, which is how The Sonder Line’s piece The Touch Industry has found a very fitting home inside Fortitude Valley’s The Candy Club. Suitably, this show explores the world of adult dancers and strippers – unpacking their inner monologues and giving insight into a profession that everyone knows about, but is still shrouded in mystique.
The Touch Industry provides an inside look at adult entertainment, exploring the everyday routines, frustrations and motivations of the women who work in venues like The Candy Club. This discourse is a fascinating one, opening the lines of communication about a job which is both glamourized and demonised in modern culture. This show focuses more on the trials of the profession; the unsavoury customers, the guilt that comes with a job that is considered by many taboo, the misunderstanding of family and friends. While these narratives provide the drama and conflict present in the The Touch Industry that make it a compelling watch, this could have been a more well-rounded show if there had been some focus on other angles too, such as employees of such clubs who enjoy their job or are proud of their profession. It did seem a bit contradictory to present a show about the trials of working in adult entertainment when working in partnership with a venue like The Candy Club, and certainly made the moment when the show had ended and the working employees of the club stepped in and began work for the evening a little awkward.
The four performers who bought The Touch Industry to life were all superb dancers, moving their bodies with control and poise throughout the show. The piece was shaped around sequences of choreography which depicted the routines and experiences of the characters in details both explicit and abstract. The vocal performances given were not quite as strong, with some opening night shakes and rushing of lines. As the season progresses, hopefully the performers will become as bold in their vocal expression as they are in their dancing, to create a truly dynamic show.
As the night ended and the club began to run business as usual, it was once again the atmosphere created by both venue and performance which left its impression. It was a surreal experience to watch drama become reality, and made me want to stay, to know more about these women, this place and its patrons, this industry. I left the “theatre” with more questions than I came with, and hope that The Sonder Line might be back with further renditions to show me even more.
The Sonder Line presents
THE TOUCH INDUSTRY
Venue: The Candy Club | 198 Wickham Terrace, Fortitude Valley QLD
Dates: 5 – 21 May 2015